Health systems everywhere rely on digital transformation to address the onslaught of disruptions they face. At the heart of it all lies a paradox: the more emphasis healthcare places on technology, the greater our reliance on the human capabilities required to shape and align it.
Just looking around us today, it is clear that Europe develops a plethora of brilliant high-tech-based solutions every year. And granted, digital health is changing the healthcare ecosystem at all levels - this is far from being breaking news!
Digital health is something to be excited about, for sure. The healthcare sector faces many challenges. Medical science is becoming increasingly complex. The decision-making process is layered with more and more shades of uncertainty as information proliferates. Healthcare facilities and practitioners do not have the means to accommodate such high demand - be it the number of people seeking care or the need to process such a variety and quantity of information.
We might have the tech, but what is tech worth if it generates more data than the human brain can process? Every new device, app, wearable or gadget generates exabytes of information, that will be stored in a silo - and by silo, we don’t mean a fortress, mind you. Nothing is locked away, just stored on a digital shelf somewhere, slightly out of reach, arranged in a fashion that is not standardised, gatekept by compliance bouncers that while not hostile, will do nothing to help you find it.
Modern healthcare silos are, surprisingly, made of documents. Documents of all types, originating from all sources, some containing vital information, others tangential. Text files, images, tables, good old PDFs... the format may differ, yet all of them have one thing in common - they’re individual entities. And as individual entities, they need to be accessed... individually.
Consider a hospital where, in the operating theatre, someone is doing augmented reality robotic-assisted surgery. Cutting-edge 21st-century tech at its best. And yet, right next door, someone is printing out the surgery report, stapling it to a pre-surgery X-ray, and then loading the lot into a fax machine. Such is the paradox of our sector.